1. LIFESTYLE CHOICES AFFECTING CANCER
Cancer is one of the most common diseases of developed countries, being
responsible for one in every four deaths. Cancer is thought to start when changes
occur in the genes that control cell division. It is a result of uncontrolled mitosis,
where cancerous cells divide repeatedly, out of control and results in a tumour –
which is an irregular mass of cells.
Agents that cause cancer are known as carcinogens. These carcinogens
include ionizing radiation, many chemicals and viruses. It is these carcinogens
that includes our lifestyle choices.
Cigarette smoking remains one of the most infamous cause of cancer. An
estimated 180,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer each year in the
United States alone. 96% of them are cigarette smokers and 90% of them are
predicted to be dead in three years after the verdict. There are at least 80 cancer
causing chemicals in a single cigarette. These chemicals include; tar, arsenic,
benzene, and etc.
Tar is a collection of solid particles that is inhaled by smokers when they
light up a cigarette. It is a mixture of a lot of chemicals, including many of which
can cause cancer. When tar is settled, it leaves a sticky, black residue that can
stain smoker’s teeth, fingers and lungs. However tar is not the only dangerous
chemicals present in cigarettes. Small amounts of arsenic can accumulate in
smokers’ bodies and build up to higher concentrations over a long period of
time. It can worsen the effect of other chemicals by interfering with our ability to
repair our DNA.
While it is long known that cigarettes play a huge role in cancer, scientists
are now realizing that diet, body weight and regular exercise can protect us
Perhaps the strongest evidence of the importance of lifestyle in cancer is
that the most common cancers are more apparent in countries with higher
obesity rates such as the United States. It is also known that since the Japanese
2. have begun to adopt a Western lifestyle, the rates of colon, breast and prostate
cancer have increased drastically.
Diet, physical inactivity, and obesity are elated to approximately 30-35%
of all cancer cases. Obesity is the second most important factor in causing cancer
after tobacco, and there is evidence that maintaining a healthy weight will help
us prevent the disease. A study by the American Cancer Society in 2003 found
that people with obesity, when compared to people of average build, had a
significantly increased risk of death from 10 different kinds of cancer in men, and
12 different kinds in women.
Being overweight causes your full fat cells to release chemicals that cause
inflammation, which can lead to cancer. Lack of fruit and vegetables deprives
people of the antioxidants that helps prevent cancer. The American Institute for
Cancer Research urges people to eat a healthy diet which includes a wide variety
of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans. This is where people get their
nutrients, fiber and cancer fighting phytochemicals.
Recent studies have also shared the suggestion that, in order to use
exercise to reduce the risk of cancer, the more sweat the better. The more
beneficial exercises are the frequent and demanding sorts of exercise.
Researchers admit that they don’t know just how or why brisk exercise affects
risk of cancer or why only some types of cancer are affected.
Other lifestyle habits can also play a role in causing cancer such as
consuming excess alcohol and unprotected sex. Even things that are out of our
help affect cancer such as urban air pollution.
We now know just how much lifestyle choices affect the risk of cancer
developing. In order to take care of our body we should start changing our
lifestyle habits if change is necessary. The AICR recommendations for cancer
prevention include; being as lean as possible without becoming underweight,
being physically active for at least 30 minutes every day, avoiding sugary drinks
and eating more variety of vegetables. It is also recommended to avoid use of
cancer prevention pills as they do not really help preventing cancer.